How a Garden Grew Into an Industry

November 6, 2019

It started with a sparse garden that had no business being there. Treana was on the 10th borehole (water well) assessment of the day and the area was deserted. As he examined the borehole, Abedengo walked right past her to the tiny crop of struggling plants that were protected from animals by a little makeshift fence.

The garden was likely not going to make it, but that wasn’t the point - this meagre little plot was proof of someone’s determination and ingenuity. In our work, we often come across forward-thinking people and we can build our programs around them or at least pick their brains before launching projects. The person behind this garden was a visionary thinker dedicated to changing the current situation, so Treana and Abedengo went looking for that person. This is how they met Morris.

The Bidi Bidi resettlement is spread out over a massive area made up of many villages, and Morris lives in a village with women who have been traumatized by the war. He and other men in the village pooled their money to launch a gardening and crafting co-op for these women; helping them heal through purposeful work.

Morris presented our team with a business plan that focuses on sewing school uniforms, handicrafts, carpentry and sewing/embroidering bed sheets for hotels.

This kind of expansive ingenuity complements the initiatives of other villages in Bidi Bidi. The carpentry program will build hives and the sewing project will make beekeeping suits for the beekeeping program. This kind of synergy between projects is the goal because it leads to self-sustainability.

We’ve committed to providing a roof for their new building, training for their sewing and carpentry initiatives, and supplies to get them started.

Commercial sewing projects can help the women of Bidi Bidi provide for themselves, which is why we’ve opened our first tailor shop and textile training facility in the area. With proper training and supplies, the women will be able to produce textile-based crafts, sew school uniforms and create bed sheets for local hotels.  

These projects will initially serve the local market, but we’ll look for ways to bring them to an international market, setting the women up for success and working with them every step of the way. 

Was it luck or something greater that led Treana to Morris that day? We still get shivers thinking about how it all began with Abedengo spotting a garden planted near our borehole. The thing that ultimately brought them together that day was water. It always begins with water.